MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewPerhaps Kelly should have written a straightforward memoir about her life as a journalist. I’m not sure why she decided to write a book on parenting ... It seems that Kelly was not exactly home, observing her children, the entire year — when she blocked out six weeks to write this book, she retreated alone to her summer home on Nantucket. We also don’t learn, until more than 200 pages into the book, that she and her husband were separating; a life-changing event shouldn’t be thrown in as an afterthought, unless you really aren’t interested in digging deep. And, while Kelly does write movingly about her father’s death, she seems more interested in keeping the shades of her family life drawn.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewObama’s road map for uncertain times resonates in ways that other self-help books do not ... I want to hear from Michelle Obama, who doesn’t always like the way she looks, who felt like an outsider after becoming the ultimate insider; the one who easily becomes lonely ... Through her stories, experiences and thoughts, we’re finding the light with her. Lucky us ... Relatable ... We are perfectly aware of how carefully she chooses her words and the stories she tells. But she reveals herself, subtly and endearingly, in a dozen different ways ... Her thoughts are nuanced and never prescriptive.
A J Jacobs
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... weirdly fascinating ... a romp, both fun and funny. Jacobs explains, in a way I never could, how at various points in our lives puzzles can save us ... Jacobs’s love for puzzles is infectious, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Nancy Jo Sales
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewSales joins the Hunter S. Thompson school of gonzo journalism, combining her rich reporting with her own dating app tales. She recounts adventures she insists are signs of her romantic nature, but many readers might perceive differently. There are many anonymous encounters, which Sales writes about sometimes hilariously and sometimes erotically (she has a gift for sex scenes, no small thing) ... She seems outraged that we live in a culture where you can’t enjoy risk-free encounters with strangers without fear of being hurt, and PS, don’t you dare slut-shame me for wanting this. I don’t, at all. But I kept thinking: Pick a lane. Have sex with hookups, embrace the thrill, but accept that there’s risk, both emotionally and physically ... In her interviews, Sales takes the complaints of women to heart, but not men’s. Women who want casual sex are free spirits; men who want casual sex are scumbags ... Sales gets props for not whitewashing the story.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewPower occasionally brings the funny; her description of one bad date was a genuine Bridget Jones moment ... But the navel gazing and the guilt about the navel gazing make her go a bit mad about halfway through her journey; she pushes friends and family away, drinks excessively, bolts from perfectly lovely men and continues to avoid washing her hair. Some of those closest to her begin to avoid her. But all have an annoying way of showing up again to tell her that, despite her self-loathing, the rest of the world doesn’t see her the way she sees herself. As a writerly contrivance, you can do this once or twice; when you do it over and over the reader begins to think, Maybe she skimped on the self-help books about writing ... filled with epiphanies that are unceremoniously discarded a few pages later. Perhaps that’s the point of the book, but this can be a little exhausting.
PositiveBook PostI’m certain you’ll find Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, which surfaced as a frequent year-end favorite this year, delicious ... Craig Brown, a British journalist, critic, and humorist, has pulled off an amazing stunt: by ignoring the conventions of straightforward biography, he has written a fascinating account of a tedious woman ... Brown wraps all this dishing in a silky package of sophisticated wit ... The book inevitably becomes darker, and we do become sympathetic to this deeply unhappy woman.